India is a country of 1.4 billion people, and the figure is growing every minute of the day. In a country where religious and political gatherings have become a regular ritual; events, concerts, election rallies, festivals, athletic events have become more entertaining than the daily news. This is why Crowd Management and Event Security become even more important in a diverse society like India.
Whether people are queuing up for their second vaccination in these acute Covid times, voters in an election campaign, or protestors fighting for their rights; Indians need a more strategized approach to crowd management at a heavily assembled site.
Holi, Ganesh Chaturthi, Kumbh Mela, Char Dham Yatra, and so forth are some of the many religious congregations that take place in India. These crowds raise the risk of stampede-like scenarios at the venue. Vaishno Devi Temple, a Hindu shrine in J&K is a recent example of a celebration turned into a loss of lives for some. About a dozen people lost their lives in a stampede at this location and many got injured after being crushed into a bloodbath by their fellow devotees. This is a reminder that India’s crowd management techniques need to be reconsidered.
Crowd management relies heavily on the processes of effective information and distribution. If the Shrine Board had invested in stronger communication capabilities in anticipation of larger numbers on New Year’s Eve; then uncapped admission at Vaishno Devi may have been monitored more structurally. The concerned authorities could have used electronics to send out real-time updates to any on-foot devotee hoping to get darshan that night. Gone are the days when paper ‘parchi’ could suffice to govern crowd traffic. Now, advanced technology can serve as an eagle-eye at congested yet important events like these cultural events to avoid the possibility of any panic situation. By using the latest tools of technology, security service can target their high-alert area and control the situation before time.
In the American and European culture, major gatherings take place during the engaging events of FIFA, Olympics, Super Bowls, NBA games, and especially when Djokovic and Nadal come together to play a stupendous tennis match. India, on the other hand, is lauded for selling out all the IPL tickets. Clearly, people love getting entertained and are over enthusiastic in support of their favorite players and teams. This cannot take us away from the fact that estimated 80% of stampedes in India, unfortunately, happen on religious occasions at pilgrimages and holy sites, predominantly. In a devout & history-rich country like India, this is one of the main reasons why crowd management has become a necessity.
“Damage control in real-time”, “crowd surge and distress scenarios” are some of the key problems that every event organizer faces at the venue. Sometimes, it seems almost impossible to keep a dispersing-crowd situation under control. Ask the protestors if barricades could stop them from marching towards the parliament when they had to; or if guards could control a large number of devotees to take holy baths in the river Ganga beyond the marked line. It’s not easy to maintain crowd control, but if security services can succeed in saving lives and maintaining order at such events, then it’s definitely a better situation for both sides. A women’s marathon in Uttar Pradesh ended in a stampede-like situation, and the Delhi Metro was forced to run at full capacity just to avoid overcrowding outside the stations, even while the third wave raged.
Only by fully comprehending the situation and establishing a suitable crowd management strategy can such threats be effectively addressed, and losses reduced. This involves incorporating flexibility into the plan to respond to changing situations, educating security personnel for specialized stakeholder communication, utilizing technology that has been tested and proven to be effective, and taking stock after D-day to learn from mistakes. This is a feat that can only be accomplished by specialized organizations that provide the full spectrum of crowd management services.
Crowd management specialists are better equipped to keep crowds at Indian athletic events like the IPL from becoming agitated due to cancellations, oversubscription of admission tickets or unfavorable umpire decisions. The slogan should be social cohesion rather than compulsion. This necessitates empathy training, attentive crowd behavior handling, and the use of technology rather than lathis. Such training could have prevented the clash with the doctors at a recent demonstration in the capital.
The Events and Crowd Management industry can work as a catalyst to lift the economy of India; by providing an enriching experience to the citizens as well as the tourists in India. This will contribute to enhancing the reliability of people and increase the participation of more people from all over the world. Data analysis, Computer modeling, Tracking and pass systems, RFID tagging, etc. are not new to India, but it’s time to step up the ladder.
International crowd management companies now offer the latest technology such as CCTV surveillance with HD IP cameras with VMS, mobile control room with remote connectivity through satellite and response mechanism, drones for roof level surveillance and public address system, face recognition among crowds and robotic support, but takers are limited due to lack of awareness. The more we understand the need of the hour for Crowd Management in India, the more effectively we will be able to dodge any threat that sprouts from an unattended event. It’s time that we talk more about this erupting issue. Universal standards have spiked the bar for us, but Indian security systems can use a unique yet promising approach to level up in the event security and crowd management.
Crowd control is an undervalued service demand in India, while it should be prioritized, especially in today’s era. India’s crowd-control measures need proper attention to deliver a safe and memorable experience. Long-term success rather than short-term profit can be achieved by investing resources in an efficient plan that includes cutting-edge technology, a specialized strategy, and qualified employees for professional implementation and support. So that, next time the fans go to the Cricket stadium, they don’t have to witness a stampede crushing all their excitement.
To maintain the decorum of the crowd in huge events, India needs to emphasize effective communication, stringent selection criteria, sensitive on-ground interventions, specialized personnel training, safety insurance, online customer feedback system, transparency, statutory compliances and professionalism.
India comes as a surprise to the entire world with its budget-friendly and innovative growth ideas. Certainly, it will create yet another wave globally by introducing tight security crowd management and event security in the near future. India should be capable of implementing complex context-driven crowd control interventions and automated tools. A solid security system might also inspire global reliance on several international events or concerts held in India, and who knows, maybe India will host the Olympics in the coming years.
Systematic crowd management services can help India take a leap to the next level in event planning; because when it comes to Crowd Management Security for any event or venue, there is no margin for error!
Harsh Wardhan is the CEO of CSC-INDIA (promoted by CSC-USA), a global leader in crowd management & event security. He has formerly served as CEO at G4S and Securitas India.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors’ and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.